Mr. Mom Gets 100 Years in Diaper Neglect Case

Aug 8, 2012 by

Staying at home to care for children as a “Mr. Mom” house-husband is a familiar task to an ever-increasing number of men in the current economy where single parents and working mothers are the norm in many households. Some men do a great job as child custodians, and some do not.

James Sargent of Peoria, Illinois definitely falls into the latter category. Sargent’s horrific neglect of his 5-month-old infant son has earned him an equally horrific jail sentence of 100 years behind bars. Peoria County Circuit Judge James Shadid sentenced James Sargent to the maximum allowable sentence on June 25, 2009 after police discovered the body of a starved infant, Benjamin Sargent, who had died from an infection caused by a disposable diaper that had not been changed in at least a week, maybe longer.  

Police spokesmen said the baby’s last meal probably occurred several days prior to his death. Prolonged exposure to a soiled diaper created infection that ate away the infant’s skin, allowing deadly bacteria to enter his body. The infant’s body was discovered strapped into a car seat sitting inside the home in February of 2008.

Even though Sargent’s defense attorney argued that he suffered from mental illness and often withdrew from reality, Judge Shadid commented that he did not believe that someone who allowed a 5-month-old to rot to death deserved an explanation for the harsh sentence. Sargent showed no remorse at the hearing, and prior to sentencing, read a rambling 15-minute statement to the court that made no mention of his son at all. The infant’s mother, Tracy Hermann, goes on trial for neglect in October for leaving her son in James Sargent’s care. The couple’s three-year-old daughter, Natalie Grace, has been removed from the home by Child Protective Services and is in foster care.

Public reaction has been a near-unanimous call for the death penalty for both parents in the case. Prosecutors cited mental problems as the reason they did not ask for the death penalty, seeking maximum-length incarceration terms instead.

There is no way to put crimes against children into rational perspective, especially those crimes perpetrated by parents. This particular crime is so unthinkable it defies all logic and the only conclusion to be made is that some people should not be allowed to become parents at all.

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